Pocket Previews: Miracle Merchant

By Nick Vigdahl 27 Jun 2017 2

TinyTouchTales has become a master of modern solitaire variants. It started with Card Crawl, certainly in the Pantheon of single-player card games and arguably the best solitaire variant on mobile. Earlier this year the stealthy Card Thief snuck onto our devices and into the running for 2017s game of the year. Today TinyTouchTales is hard at work on Miracle Merchant, a new solitaire game currently in beta and man does it look good.

In this latest offering you play as an alchemist extraordinaire, a brewer of potions as many and varied as the clientele that enter your shop. You brew potions from ingredients contained within four decks of cards. The decks are colored—green, blue, yellow, and red—and each contains 13 cards.

Epic Potion

Miracle Merchant is a high-score chaser where you earn gold for the quality of the potion you concoct. A potion consists of four cards and must be brewed to order. Each customer has an ingredient they require and an ingredient they prefer to accompany it. Gold is accrued for meeting a customer’s ingredient requirement and preferences as well as for recipe combos like rainbows (using one of every color), twins (two of a kind), triplets (three of a kind), and duplexes (two pair). Certain cards also provide a bonus for being played next to or with a particular color. Your goal is to brew the best possible potion, and thus run up the score.

It’s not all rainbows and happy customers however, as spoiled ingredients—black in color—are sprinkled throughout the four decks. Spoiled cards have a value of -1 to -3 and bring down the quality of your potion and thus its score. To make matters worse, if you fail to provide the customer their required ingredient—say because a disgusting spoiled ingredient blocks the way—they are quite unhappy and you lose the game. If the total value of any potion is less than one gold you end up with an unsatisfied customer and lose the game. The trick is to slip the spoiled ingredients into otherwise successful potions while still achieving the highest possible score.

The gameplay is simple. You drag and drop ingredient cards where you want them to go and immediately see the effect on the quality (gold) of your potion. There is a healthy level of tactics involved, including the ability to see your next customer’s required ingredient and thus plan ahead for what’s to come. You can also give every few customers the boot, literally, and kick them out of line. The boot is quite a handy tool for those hard-to-fill orders. Miracle Merchant plays quickly, a game takes just a couple minutes. As with any card game luck, plays a role.

Bad luck

The simple design doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of Miracle Merchant, it compounds it. The game is compelling and is one of those titles where you end up playing game after game. It’s the perfect game for when you want to challenge your brain but not to the point of frustration.

Thomas Wellman’s art is also attractive and matches the usual style for TinyTouchTale’s games. The characters and alchemical concoctions are colorful and fun. It all feels like it belongs in a graphic novel about a potion merchant. Some familiar faces even stop by to refill on potions.

Familiar Face

Simple, fun, and attractive is a winning combination for a digital card game. Miracle Merchant may only be in beta, but the game mechanics and level of polish already on display show a lot of promise for the game to come. I look forward to adding this one to my game collection when it comes out later this year.

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